Deconstructing the U.S.-Saudi Partnership; Strategic Insights: v.1, issue 7 (September 2003)
Russell, James A.
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As a lynchpin of U.S. security strategy and policy in the Persian Gulf for over 50 years, Washington's relationship with Riyadh and the House of Al Saud has been a foundation of stability amidst the region's currents of instability. However bad things may have been in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, southern Lebanon or any number of other situations, the U.S.-Saudi relationship provided all concerned with a degree of assurance that events would not spin completely out of control. But this relationship is now under more pressure than at any time in recent memory. Various commentators have suggested that the partnership should be restructured to reflect what is described as a fundamentally adversarial relationship. The inference from such arguments is that a strong U.S.-Saudi relationship no longer serves U.S. strategic interests. This document explains why fundamentally altering the U.S.-Saudi bilateral relationship would have serious consequences for Saudi security and peace in the Middle East. It could potentially render the U.S.-trained and equipped Saudi military unable to defend the Kingdom and would deny the United States the opportunity to continue working with the dominant regional power to achieve collective defense and regional military integration. Any serious suggestions that the 50-year partnership needs to be fundamentally altered should carefully consider these costs.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (September 2002), v.1 no.7
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